A father and son were sentenced to prison, thousands of dollars in fines and multi-year hunting bans after killing a grizzly bear in Idaho’s Caribou-Targhee National Forest last spring.
Jared and Rex Baum of Ashton, Idaho, were walking in a heavily wooded area near Island Park in late March when they opened fire on a grizzly sow with their Ruger-5.7 pistols, allegedly thinking it was a black bear, even though there was no open season. neither for those. After shooting the bear at least 12 times, the father and son left the scene and did not report the incident to Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG).
All grizzlies in the lower 48 remain protected under the Endangered Species Act. The men could have gotten away with poaching the federally protected bear if the animal had not previously been collared by bear biologists with IDFG.
Shortly after the sow succumbed to her injuries, the radio-tracking collar around her neck began emitting signals of mortality. On April 9, 2021, IDFG personnel refined those signals during a routine flight over the area. Amid further investigation, investigators found the dead sow partially submerged in the runoff-laden waters of the Little Warm River. After retrieving a bullet from the bear’s ribcage, biologists visited the sow’s known den, where they discovered that her 6- to 8-week-old male cub had died in his absence.
According to a press release recently issued by IDFG, the sow’s carcass was removed and transported off-site for further inspection. X-ray images of his remains revealed 12 bullets and one bullet fragment.
Armed with this information, IDFG issued a press release seeking help from locals and recent visitors to the Island Park area. They wanted to know if anyone had seen or heard anything that might shed more light on the incident. At Ashton, Jared Baum heard about the press release and began to worry. He knew the grizzly had been collared and quickly dumped the guns he and his father had used to kill him into a nearby pond.
After disposing of their weapons, the Baums may have momentarily believed that they had managed to evade justice. But IDFG investigators were on his trail.
Investigators took the case to Google and issued a warrant for any pinging of electronic devices that were at or around the scene of the poaching incident at the time of the grizzly sow’s death. The results of that search led them to Jared Baum.
When Baum was questioned by investigators in November 2021, he admitted to killing what he said he thought was a black bear when he initially started shooting at it. Even if he had been truthful, the admission would still have implicated Baum in a felony, as there was no open season for black bears in Idaho in late March when the shooting occurred.
According to IDFG, “Jared later told officers that he had tracked down the bear and thought he had shot it forty times as it ran downstream toward the Little Warm River. After Jared saw that it was a grizzly bear, he said that he realized that he had shot her one too many times and that she was going to die, so he finished her off.”
During the same interview, he implicated his elderly father in the crime, saying “he was not alone in shooting the bear and was accompanied by his father Rex Baum.”
A little over a year after shooting the grizzly sow and trying to cover their tracks, Rex and Jared Baum have finally been sentenced for their bad decision.
For his part, Jared was charged with a felony that carries the revocation of his hunting privileges for life, 30 consecutive days in the Fremont County Jail, three years of probation and fines of more than $12,000. His 79-year-old father will spend three days in jail, pay more than $1,000 in fines and penalties, and have his hunting privileges revoked for 10 years. Neither will be allowed to hunt in any of the 48 US states that participate in the Interstate Compact Against Wildlife Violators.